María del Pilar Vázquez is on the way to become the first Puerto Rican woman to complete, with the cycling group Reve, the 21 stages of the Tour de France, the most important stage race in the world.
Today, in a telephone interview from France during her day off after completing fifteen stages of the famous race, Vázquez, a 40-year-old mother of three (14, 12 and 9 years), said to Reuters that the experience has been “very tough” and that she has sometimes wondered why she decided to undertake this challenge. “I am a woman of challenges and I am defiant … Literally, this experience is about a life change. I will return home as another person; it is something like a process of detoxification and cleansing of the soul,” said Vázquez.
This is the first time a female group of cyclists embark on the Tour de France, a competition in which only men can participate, and they are completing the stages a day ahead of the official competition. The group organizing this tour, Reve, is doing this parallel race on behalf of the organization Bike Belong, which has been dedicated since 1999 to promoting cycling.
The rest of the Reve team is formed by U.S. cyclists Kate Powlison, Heidi Swift, Jennifer Cree, Kym Fant, and Kristen Peterson—all much younger than Vázquez.
[. . .] Vázquez has said that after completing the Tour de France, she may seek a more difficult challenge, such as cycling across the U.S.
[Many thanks to Ivonne María Marcial for bringing this item to our attention.]